3 Yoga Pose Swaps for Wrist Injuries

Reduce pressure & strain on your wrists with these 3 yoga pose swaps for those with weak wrists or wrist injuries…

Being unable to do your favorite yoga pose due to an injury or disability can be very frustrating. The wrists are an often-overlooked area that can become stressed or injured, especially in today’s world of constant computer and phone usage. Whether you simply have weak wrists or an existing wrist injury, it may be difficult or unwise for you to do certain yoga postures.

However, you can still have a fulfilling and beneficial yoga practice – you just need to know when to modify a pose to suit your needs – or choose another pose with similar benefits if you can’t do a certain pose at all.

Below are 3 pose swaps that you will find very helpful if you suffer from weak wrists, wrist injuries, or wrist pain.  Substitute these options whenever your yoga class or video suggests a pose that you have trouble with due to wrist issues. (To strengthen weak wrists, also see these 8 poses.)

1. Crow Pose (Swap: Garland Pose)

Crow Pose is a popular arm balance, and unfortunately, if you have a wrist injury, arm balances are not your friend. Placing the entire weight of your body on your hands and wrists will only increase your pain and potentially make your injury last longer. We often think arm balances mostly require strong arms and a strong core. The truth is that to do a successful arm balance you need to have a lot of flexibility in your hips and legs. So, instead of doing Crow Pose you can do Malasana (Garland Pose), a squat, which will increase the flexibility in your hips and inner thighs. (Click here for instructions.)


After a few breaths with your hands in prayer, start to walk your hands forward and round your spine. Bring your chin to your chest, and with your hands shoulder-distance apart, come up onto your fingertips and squeeze your fingertips onto the mat like you’re squeezing hand-sized balls. (This action will help to strengthen the muscles in your hands, which will help you later when you’re ready to bear weight on your hands and wrists again.) Stay here for a few breaths. To come out, walk your hands back, lift your hips, and fold forward over your legs.

2. Wheel Pose (Swap: Bridge Pose or Camel Pose)

Wheel Pose is a wonderful backbend, but unfortunately it’s also an incredibly difficult position to get into… I love Camel and Bridge poses as substitutes for Wheel because they are tremendous shoulder openers that also strengthen your back. People often come to yoga because of tightness in the back due to sitting too often. Both Bridge and Wheel help to counter these effects. And unlike Wheel Pose, Bridge and Camel do not require your arms to be overhead, which is unavailable if you’ve got tight shoulders or wrist injuries. (See instructions here for Bridge Pose and Camel Pose.)

3.) Downward Dog (Swap: Dolphin)

Downward-Facing Dog is probably the posture that you do most often in a vinyasa-flow practice. It’s a wonderful pose that is a hamstring opener, shoulder opener, and core and back strengthener. Dolphin Pose also has those benefits without the added risk of straining your wrists. (See instructions here.)

Find more pose swaps at YogaJournal.com


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